Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we don't want to face Dallas in the first round.
Good lord, that was an offensive clinic. They weren't even getting great shots in the first half. Josh Howard (who really does belong on the Olympic team) and MVDirk were just hitting everything - hand in the face, off-balance, whatever. The Kings were ceding open shots to Jerry Stackhouse and Darrell Armstrong (why isn't that guy a coach or something? he's like 80!), who didn't convert a whole lot. Jason Terry was getting open a bit too easily because everyone was really focused on stopping Nowitzki, who really can't be stopped regularly.
The inability to corral defensive rebounds was obviously disastrous. I often complain how worthless a stat raw rebound margin is - it doesn't account for rebound opportunities, so in most cases, the team that shoots better and turns the ball over less will end up with more defensive boards than the other squad. Rebounding percentage is the metric of choice here, and it obviously isn't pretty for last night. Sacramento's defensive rebounding percentage was a woeful 50 percent. (Seriously, that is way woeful. Mediocre is 70 percent, good is 75 percent, fantabulous is 80 percent, Detroit-like is 85 percent.) The Mavericks didn't hit the D-glass real strongly either, but their DReb% was still a respectable 72.5 percent. Doesn't that tell you a lot more than the 15-11 offensive rebound margin? (And it also describes each team's offensive rebounding prowess - Dallas had a ridiculously high 50 percent OReb%, while Sac's was a decent 27.5%. It's just the difference of 100% and the opposing DReb%, which should make sense.)
So yeah, we don't want to face the Mavericks in a seven-game series that starts in Big D. I assume we'll find out tonight why we likewise don't want to face the Spurs in a seven-game series that starts in San Antonio. (Though I'd love to be wrong.)
I'm not going to get all crazy about the rest of the season being a referendum on the new core (Artest, Bibby, Miller and even Bonzi). Getting to the playoffs is obviously a goal and a benchmark. Remember how bad and down and out this squad was in December? Yeah. Getting to the playoffs is the goal, not solely evaluating what we have on the roster. We ain't Portland. (Though they seem to not be evaluating talent either. If John Nash still has his job in September, I will buy a Joel Pryzbilla jersey and wear it bi-weekly.)
Even if just for Shareef, we need to just make the playoffs. (Even if we limp in.) If just to get Ron-Ron some more TV time, and to get Bibby a bit more pub, and to get Francisco and Kevin some spotlight on ABC. To keep the streak alive. To let the fans in ARCO show their pride and passion.
Of course, to get to the playoffs, we've got to win. Fingers crossed.